In the Old Order Amish communities of Ohio’s Holmes County, it is rare for one of the self-styled “plain” people to seek aid from an outsider, one of “the English.” But Bishop Eli Miller needs help and goes for it to a local academic, Michael Brandon. Years before, Miller had exiled his son Jonah for his wild ways. Now Jonah has snatched his own son, Jeremiah, who has been living with the bishop. In a note to his father, Jonah sends assurances that the boy will be returned by harvest time. Concern about Jeremiah’s exposure to the outside world prompts the bishop to ask Brandon to locate the boy. And Brandon, too, is worried: Jeff Hostettler–whose sister, Jeremiah’s mother, committed suicide–has vowed to kill Jonah on sight. When Jonah is discovered shot dead, dressed in traditional Amish garb and apparently on his way back in repentance to the bishop’s home, Hostettler becomes the prime suspect. But where is Jeremiah? Gaus brings a refreshing authenticity to his unusual setting and characters. There are no wisecracking gumshoes here, but instead believable characters whose faith is explored with respect. Anyone who enjoyed the film Witness should take to this fine mystery debut.
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